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The Croatian War of Independence raged from 1991 to 1995, resulting in victory for the Croatians and a newly declared Republic of Croatia (Republika Hrvatska). The war was primarily fought between Croatians seeking to separate themselves from the Socalist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia on one side, and ethnic Serbians supported by the Yugoslavian People's Army (JNA) on the opposite side. At this time, the Republic of Serbian Krajina was declared within the borders of Croatia, the Serbian Krajina Army and Police having their own military insignia distinctive form the JNA (although being outfitted largely with the same equipment and uniforms).
The Croatian National Guard Corps (Zbor narodne garde - ZNG) was the earliest independent military formation, created in May 1991, and was supplied largely with materiel purchased in East Germany, Hungary and on various international black markets. Units of the ZNG were outfitted in a number of different types of camouflaged combat uniforms, including surplus US military issue BDUs and ex-DDR issue strichtarn"rain" pattern camouflage winter uniforms. National Guard units were shortly amalgamated into the fledgling Croatian Army (Hrvatska vojska), which by 1992 was equipped much more professionally in a variety of locally-made camouflage uniforms, many of which were based on the US m81 woodland drawings.
Following independence, the Croatian Army (HV) continued to wear the woodland pattern until approximately 2005 when a newly-designed series of two pixelated camouflage patterns were adopted. The Croatian Police (Policija) and special units of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (Ministarstvo unutarnjih poslovna - MUP), meanwhile, have since outfitted themselves - ironically - in locally-made copies of tiger pattern camouflage uniforms originally utilized by Yugoslavian forces.
Croatian Camouflage Patterns
Seen here is the East German designed strichtarn camouflage pattern, worn in fairly large numbers by the ZNG during the early months of the war. Photographic documentation suggests only quilted winter uniforms were worn, and once initial supplies ran out no more were obtained.
The Croatian Army used surplus US m81 Woodland camouflage uniforms as well as locally-made ones. Croatian-produced jackets and shirts have shoulder straps and are of different construction than the American models. Illustrated here are examples of early model Croatian woodland camouflage with a prominent tan background color.
Seen below is are examples from a Croatian-produced woodland shirt and jacket using a darker colourway than the original US woodland.
Illustrated here is another variation of the woodland camouflage design, this one having a much paler, almost grey background color and brighter green in the foreground.
Seen below are examples of late-pattern Croatian-produced woodland in the same colorway as the original US woodland design, as found on both jacket and shirt.
The pattern seen below is from a Croatian-made field jacket, and appears to be based on the Soviet TTsKO tricolor design. The colors are purple-brown and dark olive green on a light olive green background.
Illustrated below are some examples of grey tiger lizard pattern, used primarily by the MUP (Ministry of Internal Affairs) after independence. Despite the similarity to Serbian patterns, all Croatian MUP clothing is locally-made.
Also in common usage by Croatian Police and MUP are variations of the green tiger lizard pattern seen here.
Croatian military personnel have deployed to Afghanistan on several occasions, and it was quickly determined that a desert camouflage uniform was needed. The pattern chosen was the US tricolor desert design. Evidence suggests that early personnel wore imported uniforms, but later versions are definitely locally produced.
In 2005 a series of three pixelated designs were introduced for the Croatian Armed Forces. The three designs are intended for deployment in temperate/woodland, desert and urban scenarios. Part of the camouflage design incorporates a digitized map of Croatia, whilst elsewhere in the pattern can be found the initials OSRH, which stand for Oružane snage Republike Hrvatske (Armed Forces of the Republic of Croatia).
The Croatian Army Special Forces Battalion (Bojna za specijalna djelovanja) has its own pixelated camouflage design. Similar to the regular Army temperate version, the Special Forces pattern incorporates a more grey-green color rather than the brighter forest green.
The Croatian Navy (Hrvatska ratna mornarica) has also recently adopted a pixelated camouflage pattern with a primarily blue colorway that closely resembles (from a distance) the US Navy Working Uniform design. As with the previously introduced pixelated designs from this country, the Navy pattern also incorporates a digitized map of Croatia, as well as the initials OSRH.
Photographs of Croatian soldiers
Croat military policeman, 1992
Two Croat soldiers, 1992
Croatian soldier, 1992. Note the unit insignia and round rank badge
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